for PPD Practitioners and Masters Practitioners, see bleow)
Despite sea change in customer attitudes, companies are still
talking down to their clientele. All it takes is a subtle shift in
your marketing language to produce noticeable results.
By Shelle Rose Charvet
There's an old joke about Canadians: How do you get 25 Canadians
out of a swimming pool? Tell them to get out of the pool.
When it comes to sales, those days are over. A shift in customer
attitude over the past two decades means that now, more than ever,
customers have switched from needing external direction to deciding
for themselves whether or not to buy a product. They treat the sales
pitch as grist for the mill, which they compare to other offers on
In other words, they've gone from compliant to resistant — they
no longer want to be told what to do. But while many companies understand
this shift on an intuitive level, they have yet to take the right tone
with their customers.
Firms that invest in uncovering exactly what makes a customer buy have
had great success. They use the information to create their branding,
design advertising campaigns and to train their employees on the exact
language to use (or avoid) with customers —` and they report astonishing
results. Here's how you can get in on the action.
Rethink your marketing message
The shift in consumer attitudes means you need to change how you address
your customers. Some companies are still touting themselves as "the
best" or "the right choice." Discount fashion retailer
Winners' slogan is "You should go." These firms essentially
tell customers what to think and what to do, which is no longer an effective
To test this out, notice how you respond when told what to do. What's
your reaction when you're presented with unsubstantiated claims? Don't
you scoff when large corporations insist how much they care about you
through their TV advertisements? When you enter a retail environment,
doesn't it raise your dander when you are told to go to another store
to get an item that's in the retailer's catalogue and should therefore
be available at all stores?
Have a good look at your marketing materials and look for examples of
commanding and suggestive language.
Tweak your sales approach
Once you incorporate the right language in your advertising, your next
step is to properly train your staff. Otherwise, you risk raising and
then dashing your customers' expectations.
Listen to your salespeople as they advise customers. Do they make suggestions
or assertions? Ask them to try out the following kinds of phrases with
your customers and notice the response:
- "Here's some information to consider ... ."
- "Only you can decide ..."
- "Why commit before you know? Give us a try and judge for yourself."
There is a world of difference between "This is the best option
for you," and "Here's what I suggest for your situation." The
first is a statement of fact and implicitly issues a command to the customer,
while the second is a suggestion to consider.
The challenge, of course, is getting your sales staff to follow your
instructions to use suggestive rather than command language. You may
wish to use suggestive language when explaining what you want.
Customers' attitudes are changing in many ways, and this shift from
being externally motivated to buy to making the decision internally is
just one of them. But even if you only address this one change, your
customers will notice and appreciate the difference in approach. Of course,
there's only one way to know for sure — try it yourself.
Shelle Rose Charvet is president of Burlington, Ontario based Success Strategies
and is the author of Words That Change Minds: Mastering the Language of
She can be reached at www.successtrategies.com or
by email email@example.com
She is also presenting the ‘Words that Change Minds’ seminar,
with the choice of 3, 4, or 5 days to master the Language of Influence,
on 20-24 November.
PPD Learning has negotiated
a 10% discount on this programme for our Practitioners and Master Practitioners
... please call the office on 0870 7744 321
Details are available from Frank Daniels Associates email: info@FrankDanielsAssociates.co.uk
© 2004 Shelle Rose Charvet